Buddha was blink's third and final demo tape, following Flyswatter and Demo No.2 in 1993, and is notable for being the band's first-ever commercial release.
Thanks to a loan from Pat Secor, Hoppus's employer at the time, Buddha was also the first of the band's studio productions, recorded over two days, twelve hours, or three rainy nights (depending on the source) at Doubletime Studios in Santee, California, and marking a permanent departure from Scott Raynor's bedroom.
It was released in January 1994 on Filter Records, Secor's fledgeling indie label and following a legal tussle, was re-issued by Kung Fu Records on 27 October 1998, substituting 'The Girl Next Door' and 'Don't' for some of its original tracks.
Characteristic of blink's early work, the brash punk energy of Buddha is offset by its catchy melodies and light-hearted lyrics. Songs deal with the teenage concerns of sex and girls, with an overriding focus on the band's trademark juvenility, an image they were keen to project from the beginning.
A common gripe, not just with Buddha but with blink's earliest efforts in general, is directed at their off-key, scratchy vocals – here exacerbated in no small part by the fact that Mark Hoppus was suffering a cold during recording (especially audible on 'Strings'). However, considering the band's genre, their unrefined vocals are hardly amiss. Their sound is unapologetically, quintessentially West Coat punk and never pretends to be anything else.
In any case, Buddha represents some of their finest work musically. When not coming together as an effective three-piece, each band member shines on their own merit. The first track, 'Carousel', for instance, showcases some excellent drum work from Raynor, while Hoppus's bass, often too subdued, holds its ground right from the intro, later returning to form with '21 Days'. DeLonge, meanwhile, has a guitar solo on 'Reebok Commercial' and proves his chops again on 'Don't', the closing track of the remastered edition.
Other highlights include the ska-punk intro to 'Time', some stellar guitar work on tracks like 'Romeo and Rebecca' and 'My Pet Sally', and the alternating vocals of 'The Girl Next Door', an irresistibly catchy cover of a Screeching Weasel song.
Begining of something big
Buddha was instrumental in establishing the band's local fan base and, more importantly, it secured the band their contract with Cargo Records.
As for its continued appeal as a kind of honorary "album zero", despite the fact that half the songs were re-released on Cheshire Cat, some fans consider these earlier versions to be superior, particularly favouring the raw authenticity of 'Carousel' and 'Toast and Bananas'.
Tracks not re-issued, on the other hand, such as '21 Days' and 'The Girl Next Door', are considered some of their best and in themselves are well worth adding Buddha to your collection.
Billed as "a whimsical journey" to the band's "humble beginnings", this collection remains close to fans' hearts and may continue to serve as an education for the band's younger following.
- Romeo and Rebecca
- 21 Days
- Point of View
- My Pet Sally
- Reebok Commercial
- Toast and Bananas
- The Family Next Door